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Editing entomology: natural-history periodicals and the shaping of scientific communities in nineteenth-century Britain

  • MATTHEW WALE (a1)
Abstract

This article addresses the issue of professionalization in the life sciences during the second half of the nineteenth century through a survey of British entomological periodicals. It is generally accepted that this period saw the rise of professional practitioners and the emergence of biology (as opposed to the older mode of natural history). However, recent scholarship has increasingly shown that this narrative elides the more complex processes at work in shaping scientific communities from the 1850s to the turn of the century. This article adds to such scholarship by examining the ways in which the editors of four entomological periodicals from across this time frame attempted to shape the communities of their readership, and in particular focuses upon the apparent divide between ‘mere collectors’ and ‘entomologists’ as expressed within these journals. Crucially, the article argues that non-professional practitioners were active in defining their own distinct identities and thereby claiming scientific authority. Alongside the periodicals, the article makes use of the correspondence archive of the entomologist and periodical editor Henry Tibbats Stainton (1822–1892), which has hitherto not been subject to sustained analysis by historians.

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Copyright
Footnotes
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This research was conducted as part of the AHRC-funded Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries project. I would particularly like to thank Gowan Dawson, Sally Shuttleworth, Paul Cooper, Julie Harvey, Geoff Belknap, Issy Staniaszek and Richard Fallon. I am also very grateful for the complimentary and constructive feedback of Charlotte Sleigh and two anonymous reviewers.

Footnotes
References
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1 Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation (1890) 1, p. 99 (subsequently Entomologist's Record).

2 Westwood, John Obadiah, Entomologist's Text Book: An Introduction to the Natural History, Structure, Physiology, and Classification of Insects, London: William Orr and Co., 1838, p. 28.

3 For a recent study of this topic see Belknap, Geoffrey, ‘Illustrating natural history: images, periodicals, and the making of nineteenth-century scientific communities’, BJHS (2018) 51, pp. 395422. See also the forthcoming volume Sally Shuttleworth, Gowan Dawson, Bernard Lightman and Jon Topham (eds.), Science Periodicals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Constructing Scientific Communities, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

4 Clarke, J.F.M., Bugs and the Victorians, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009, pp. 187215.

5 Jim Endersby, ‘Review of Bugs and the Victorians', Reviews in History, at www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/924, accessed 26 April 2018.

6 Alberti, Samuel, ‘Amateurs and professionals in one county: biology and natural history in late Victorian Yorkshire’, Journal of the History of Biology (2001) 34, pp. 115147, 141.

7 Lightman, Bernard, Victorian Popularizers of Science: Designing Nature for New Audiences, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007.

8 Barton, Ruth, ‘Just before Nature: the purposes of science and the purposes of popularisation in some English popular science journals of the 1860s’, Annals of Science (1998) 55, pp. 133; Baldwin, Melinda, Making Nature: The History of a Scientific Journal, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015; Csiszar, Alex, The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2018.

9 Barton, Ruth, ‘“Men of science”: language, identity, and professionalization in the mid-Victorian scientific community’, History of Science (2003) 41, pp. 73119, 73.

10 Bates, Henry Walter, The Naturalist on the River Amazons, 2 vols., London: John Murray, 1863, vol. 2, p. 346.

11 Kirby, William and Spence, William, An Introduction to Entomology; Or, Elements of the Natural History of Insects, 4 vols., London: Longman et al., 1818–1826, vol. 4, p. 515, original emphasis.

12 Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer (1856) 1, p. 1 (subsequently Intelligencer).

13 Sheets-Pyenson, Susan, ‘Popular science periodicals in Paris and London: the emergence of a low scientific culture, 1820–1875’, Annals of Science (1985) 42, pp. 549572, 549–561.

14 Robert Mays, ‘Doubleday, Henry (1808–1875), naturalist’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, at www.oxforddnb.com.ezproxy3.lib.le.ac.uk/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-7847, accessed 5 February 2019.

15 Elwick, James, ‘Economies of scales: evolutionary naturalists and the Victorian examination system’, in Dawson, Gowan and Lightman, Bernard (eds.), Victorian Scientific Naturalism: Community, Identity, Continuity, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2014, pp. 131156.

16 Intelligencer (1858) 4, p. 1.

17 Intelligencer, op. cit. (16), p. 9.

18 Intelligencer, op. cit. (16), p. 30.

19 Intelligencer, op. cit. (16), pp. 21–22.

20 Intelligencer (1858–1859) 5, p. 181, original emphasis.

21 Intelligencer, op. cit. (20), p. 79, original emphasis.

22 The work of Anne Secord on the complex interactions between artisan botanists and their gentlemanly counterparts serves as an instructive comparison. Secord, Anne, ‘Corresponding interests: artisans and gentlemen in nineteenth-century natural history’, BJHS (1994) 27, pp. 383408; Secord, Science in the pub: artisan botanists in early nineteenth-century Lancashire’, History of Science (1994) 32, pp. 269315.

23 Barton, op. cit. (9); Barton, Ruth, ‘“Huxley, Lubbock, and half a dozen others”: professionals and gentlemen in the formation of the X Club, 1851–1864’, Isis (1998) 89, pp. 410444.

24 Thomas Blackburn to H.T. Stainton, 5 March 1864, H.T. Stainton Correspondence from British Entomologists, Natural History Museum, London (subsequently NHM), Box 11.

25 Henry Guard Knaggs to H.T. Stainton, 15 April 1864, NHM, Box 59.

26 See the editors’ obituaries: (Knaggs) Entomologist's Monthly Magazine (1908) 44, p. 49; (McLachlan) Entomologist's Monthly Magazine (1904) 40, pp. 145–148; (Rye) Entomologist's Monthly Magazine (1884–1885) 21, pp. 238–240.

27 Entomologist's Monthly Magazine (1864–1865) 1, p. iii.

28 Endersby, Jim, Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker and the Practices of Victorian Science, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008, pp. 2226.

29 Alberti, op. cit. (6), pp. 132–136.

30 Robert McLachlan to H.T. Stainton, 14 March 1864, NHM, Box 66.

31 McLachlan to Stainton, 14 March 1864, NHM, Box 66.

32 Stainton to Knaggs, 10 May 1864, NHM, Box 59.

33 Knaggs to Stainton, 11 May 1864, NHM, Box 59.

34 McLachlan to Stainton, 9 May 1864, NHM, Box 66.

35 Entomologist's Monthly Magazine, op. cit. (27), p. 1.

36 Knaggs to Stainton, 30 April 1864, NHM, Box 59.

37 Knaggs to Stainton, 11 May 1864, NHM, Box 59. A copy of Stainton's reply, dated 13 May 1864, is written on the reverse of Knaggs's letter.

38 Sheets-Pyenson, op. cit. (13), p. 562.

39 Barton, op. cit. (8), p. 29.

40 Entomologist (1864–1865) 2, pp. v–vi.

41 Entomologist, op. cit. (40), p. xvi.

42 Sheets-Pyenson, op. cit. (13).

43 Entomologist (1866–1867) 3, pp. v–viii.

44 Knaggs to Stainton, 21 December 1865, NHM, Box 59.

45 Knaggs to Stainton, 28 May 1864, NHM, Box 59.

46 Entomologist, op. cit. (40), p. 152.

47 Knaggs to Stainton, 8 January 1865, NHM, Box 59.

48 Entomologist, op. cit. (40), p. 163; Knaggs to Stainton, 8 February 1865, NHM, Box 59.

49 Entomologist's Record, op. cit. (1), p. 1.

50 Transactions of the Entomological Society of London (1890), pp. xlix–l.

51 Clarke, op. cit. (4), pp. 114–131.

52 Entomologist's Record, op. cit. (1), p. i.

53 Entomologist's Record (1901) 13, p. 27.

54 Entomologist's Record, op. cit. (53), p. 32.

55 Entomologist's Record, op. cit. (1), p. 99

56 Entomologist's Record, op. cit. (1), p. 99.

This research was conducted as part of the AHRC-funded Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the Nineteenth and Twenty-First Centuries project. I would particularly like to thank Gowan Dawson, Sally Shuttleworth, Paul Cooper, Julie Harvey, Geoff Belknap, Issy Staniaszek and Richard Fallon. I am also very grateful for the complimentary and constructive feedback of Charlotte Sleigh and two anonymous reviewers.

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The British Journal for the History of Science
  • ISSN: 0007-0874
  • EISSN: 1474-001X
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